Leafs have say in eighth seed

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

The slow moving saga ‘Who Wants Eighth In The East’, has a late-arriving plot twist in the form of the Maple Leafs.

Starting with Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins, the spoilers from Southern Ontario play four straight games against the four clubs who began the day separated by four points in the conference. Up to now, it has been hard to tell who was interested more in finishing ninth than eighth.

Toronto wraps up against the Philadelphia Flyers at home on Tuesday, then it travels to New York the next night, two games almost certain to have a say in the final playoff spot, before the Leafs wrapup in Montreal on

April 10. The Canadiens are in the driver’s seat with 86 points and in sixth place after beating the Buffalo Sabres last night. Then its last three against also-rans Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders and the Leafs.

Forward Johnny Boychuk was one of the few Bruins breaking from the party line Saturday to say he’s sneaking a glance at the out-of-town scoreboard when Boston is one the road.

“We look at everyone’s schedule,” Boychuk said. “If we do lose a game, we have to see what kind of place we’re in. If we win, we’ve got our two points and we’ve done our job, but you still look. Win every game and we’re in, but sometimes there are breaks in a game you catch yourself looking up and seeing how others are doing.”

Steve Begin thought there was no reason to get into a knot about who the Leafs are playing next week and that the Rangers and Flyers will wrap up with a home-and-home on Friday and Sunday.

“We don’t want to know about the other teams,” Begin said. “Even if we called them up and said: ‘You’d better win’, they don’t care about us. It’s all about us.

“We still want to look ahead, to a chance at sixth or seventh place. If we’re going to make it, it has to (be decided) in this room.

“The Leafs want to spoil, they aren’t in the playoffs, so they want to do some damage. That’s why we have to be ready.”

Where Toronto played well in March, Boston did not win more than two in a row in its attempt to nail down a playoff berth.

“We know what we’ve done wrong,” Begin said. “If we had five or 10 guys going in a different direction, we got in trouble.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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